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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Senate wants suspension of planned concession of Zungeru hydroelectric  plant

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By Kingsley Okoye

Senate has urged National Council on Privatisation and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to suspend the planned concession of 700 Mega Watts (MW) Zungeru hydroelectric power plant in Niger.

This followed the adoption of a motion by Sen. Gabriel Susuwam (PDP-Benue) and Sen. Abdullahi Yahaya (PDP-Kebbi) at Wednesday’s plenary.

Presenting the motion, tagged “the need for Senate intervention in the ongoing bid to concession Zungeru hydroelectric power plant in Niger, Abubakar said the plant was the second largest hydroelectric plant in Niger, after Kanji Hydro power station.

He said the contract was originally awarded in 2013 in the sum of 1.3 billion dollars.

He said apart from the huge loan secured by Federal Government from Exim Bank to fund the construction, the National Assembly has since the commencement of construction work on the plant approved billions of naira annually.

According to him, over N43billion was allocated to the project in the 2022 budget and another N76.5 billion was proposed by the executive in 2023 budget.

He said the project was expected to have been completed within 60 months from date of execution of the contract in 2013,but several factors have threatened the speedy completion of the project.

He said Senate’s intervention was based on the need to ensure accountability for the huge annual budgetary allocations made to the project over the years, especially on the issue of managing unsettled external loans tied to the project.

He said there was the need to establish whether the proposed concession of Zungeru plant was an exercise that would ensure that government get the deserved value for funds expended and that community related issues do not arise.

Senate in its resolution on the motion mandated its committee on Power to investigate the circumstances and conditions under which the 700 MW power plant was to be concessioned.

It also mandated the committee to investigate the completion level of the project, management of external loans from Chinese Exim Bank tied to the project and the fate of unsettled host communities where the project was sited. (NAN)

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